Thursday, July 26, 2012


AmerIndian plains tipis originated from a bull bison pelt with tail retained on back side of tent with attached female pelts sewn to it and smoke flaps in front representing horns, this derived from ancient mammoth-hide tents framed by debarked willow/wicker poles or defleshed long bones, with a bull mammoth pelt overlaid on top of leaf/rush shingles or rolled woven rush mats, with smoke flaps being skull-socketed tusks draped (perhaps pinned, not sewn) with pelts acting as both smoke hole cover and entryway.


'reconstructions' of mammoth tents

tipi types (imagine if constructed of mammoth pelts, bones, tusks)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Neanderthal & Sapiens: scraping & spinning

[Some news articles relating to paleo-particle-linguistics speculations of  Carlos @ especially in regard to fire starting, bone flutes, etc.]
Authors suggest habitual animal skin hide scraping as cause for pronounced right forelimb dominance of neanderthals. I would add plant processing (bark/root scraping) for food/medicine/pitch and fire starting by dynamic-right-hand scraping while left-hand held static item securely). A group from Africa (without fire-starting technology, cf Mbuti Congo pygmies) entered Levant/Spain and learned and modified neanderthal fire starting by using both hands to spin the firestick while holding it vertical in a mouthpiece (flue/flame/flute/Lakota peace pipe).

Update: See article & photos of 44ka Border Cave & San Kalahari bushmen drilling ostrich egg & marine shells to make pendants/beads, this resembles palm-palm spinning (spindle/kindling) of fire drill (possibly also done by neanderthals), while the threading uses the thumb-finger precision grip (which Carlos reports that Neanderthals lacked, thus no thread nor bow/arrow, just atlatl sling). Congo Mbuti pygmies do use poison arrows but don't make these beads or use fire drill/spindles. Most likely San copied linear fire starting/scraping from Neandertals and modified it into fire drilling/spinning which was then broadcast to all Hs except Rainforest pygmoidal people. Note that in Borneo, rainforest natives developed the fire piston, an air pump compression fire starter.

Neanderthal women wore a draping fur pelt (robe/wrap/toga/shawl) over the left shoulder with the corner tucked underarm while carrying an infant in left arm near breast wrapped warmly in fur, with some moss underneath. Neanderthal men draped the (reindeer/bear/buffalo) fur similarly but carried a water bag or tool in left hand while the right hand held a spear-walking stick. Both wore a belt/drawstring/rope to hold the pelt tight or loose (leaving a 'pocket' space above the belt).

Sapien men and women leaving hot tropical Africa for Spain and the Levant copied this, but modified it by including a woven linen/hemp undergarment (enlarged loincloth/stringskirt) and inserting bone pin/clasp/broach "sewn" through pelt sides allowing both hands to be free when desired, for eg. bimanual spinning of firestick or thread.

 {my interpretation: DDeden}

Some articles:


Neandertal Humeri May Reflect Adaptation to Scraping Tasks, but Not  Spear Thrusting
Colin N Shaw, Cory L Hofmann, Michael D Petraglia, Jay T  Stock, Jinger S Gottschall
PLoS ONE 7(7): e40349 doi  10.1371/journal.pone.0040349
Unique compared with recent &  prehistoric Hs, Hn humeri are characterised by
- a pronounced  right-dominant bilateral strength asymmetry &
- an A-P strengthened  diaphyseal shape.

A) Remodeling in response to asymmetric forces imposed  during regular
underhanded spear thrusting is the most influential  explanatory hypothesis.
The core tenet of the "Spear Thrusting Hypothesis"  (underhand thrusting
requires greater muscle activity on the right side of  the body compared to
the left) remains untested.
B) Might alternative  subsistence behaviours (eg, hide processing) better
explain this  morphology?
EMG was used to measure muscle activity at the primary movers  of the
humerus (pectoralis major PM, anterior AD & posterior deltoid PD)  during
A) 3 distinct spear-thrusting tasks &
B) 4 separate scraping  tasks.

A) Maximum muscle activity MAX & total muscle activity TOT  were
significantly higher at the left (non-dominant) AD, PD & PM compared  to
the right side of the body during spear thrusting tasks. Thus, the  muscle activity required during underhanded spearing tasks does not lend  itself to explaining the pronounced right dominant strength
asymmetry found  in Hn humeri.
B) During the performance of all 3 uni-manual scraping  tasks, right side
MAX & TOT were significantly greater at the AD & PM  compared to the left.
The consistency of the results provides evidence that  scraping activities
(eg, hide preparation) may be a key behaviour in  determining the unusual
pattern of Hn arm morphology.
These results  yield important insight into the Hn behavioural repertoire
that aided  survival throughout Pleistocene Eurasia.

Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal  plants
entrapped in dental calculus
Karen Hardy, Stephen Buckley, Matthew  J Collins, Almudena Estalrrich, Don
Brothwell, Les Copeland, Antonio  Garc¨ªa-Tabernero, Samuel Garc¨ªa-Vargas,
Marco de la Rasilla, Carles  Lalueza-Fox cs 2012 doi
Neanderthals  disappeared sometime between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago.
Until recently,  Neanderthals were understood to have been  predominantly
meat-eaters; however, a growing body of evidence suggests  their diet also included
plants. We present the results of a study, in  which sequential thermal
desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry  (TD-GC-MS) and
pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were  combined
with morphological analysis of plant microfossils, to identify  material
entrapped in dental calculus from five Neanderthal individuals from  the
north Spanish site of El Sidr¨®n.
Our results provide the first  molecular evidence for inhalation of
wood-fire smoke and bitumen or oil shale  and ingestion of a range of
cooked plant foods. We also offer the first  evidence for the use of medicinal plants by a
Neanderthal individual. The  varied use of plants that we have identified suggests that the
Neanderthal  occupants of El Sidr¨®n had a sophisticated knowledge of their
natural  surroundings which included the ability to select and use  certain plants.
Neanderthals ate their  greens
Tooth analysis shows that european hominins roasted vegetables and  may
have used medicinal plants.
Matt Kaplan 18.7.12
Hn have long been  viewed as meat-eaters.
The vision of them as inflexible carnivores has even  been used to suggest
that they went extinct c 25 ka as a result of food  scarcity, whereas
omnivorous humans were able to survive.
But evidence is  mounting that plants were important to Hn diets ¡ª and now
a study reveals  that those plants were roasted, and may have been used
medicinally. The  finding comes from the El Sidr¨®n Cave in N-Spain, where the c 50-ka
skeletal  remains of at least 13 Hn have been discovered.
Many of these individuals had  calcified layers of plaque on their teeth.
Karen Hardy wondered whether it  might be possible to use this plaque to
take a closer look at the Hn  menu.
Using plaque to work out the diets of ancient animals is not entirely  new,
but Hardy has gone further by looking for organic compounds in the  plaque.
They used gas chromatography & mass spectrometry to analyse the  plaque
collected from 10 teeth belonging to 5 Hn individuals from the  cave.
The plaque contained a range of carbohydrates & starch granules:  the Hn
had consumed a variety of plant spp, but there were few lipids or  proteins
from meat.
Hardy cs also found, lurking in the plaque of a few  specimens, a range of
alkyl-phenols, aromatic hydro-carbons & roasted  starch granules: they had
spent time in smoky areas and eaten cooked  vegetables.
Richard  Wrangham:
"The idea that Hn were largely meat-eaters has been hard for me to  accept
given their membership in a mainly vegetarian clade.
It is exciting  to see this new set of techniques applied to understanding
their  palaeo-diet."
Among the compounds that Hardy found were chemicals from plants  such as
yarrow & camomile, which taste bitter and have no nutritional  value.
Genetic analysis has shown that Hn had the ability to detect  bitter
tastes, raising questions about why they would intentionally eat  such
Michael Chazan suggests that the bitter-tasting plants were  used in
fire-making, and could have entered the diet as a by-product of  cooking.
Wrangham, by contrast, proposes that yarrow & camomile were used  as
Hardy disagrees with Wrangham:
"The idea of Hn sitting  down for a bowl of salad stretches my imagination,
and there is no evidence  of them having cooking pots, so soups seem
Hardy theorizes that  the Hn may have used the bitter plants as medicines ¡ª
modern herbalists use  them as anti-inflamatories & antiseptics:
"All modern higher primates  make use of medicinal plants, so perhaps
Neanderthals did too.
Lawrence  Straus:
"As exceptional places like El Sidr¨®n reveal just how wise &  flexible Hn
were, more & more we are having to ask ourselves, why did  they go

Neanderthals in Northern  Spain Had Knowledge of Plants' Healing Qualities,
Study  Reveals
An international team has provided the first molecular  evidence that Hn
not only ate a range of cooked plant foods, but also  understood its
nutritional & medicinal qualities.
Until  recently Hn (disappeared 30-24 ka) were thought to be  predominantly
However, evidence of dietary breadth is growing  as more sophisticated
analyses are undertaken.
Researchers combined  pyrolysis gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry with
morphological analysis of  plant micro-fossils to identify material trapped
in dental calculus  (calcified plaque) from 5 Hn from El Sidr¨®n.
Their results provide another  twist to the story: the first molecular
evidence for medicinal plants being  used by a Hn individual.
The researchers say the starch granules &  carbohydrate markers in the
samples, plus evidence for plant compounds such  as azulenes & coumarins,
as well as possible evidence for nuts, grasses & even green vegetables,
argue for a broader use of ingested plants than  is often suggested by
stable isotope analysis.
Karen Hardy  (Naturwissenschaften):
"The varied use of plants we identified suggests that  the Hn occupants of
El Sidr¨®n had a sophisticated knowledge of their natural  surroundings,
which included the ability to select & use certain plants  for their
nutritional value & for self-medication.
While meat was  clearly important, our research points to an even more
complex diet than has  previously been supposed."
Earlier research by this team had shown that the  Hn in El Sidr¨®n had the
bitter taste perception gene.
Now trapped within  dental calculus, researchers found molecular evidence
that one individual had  eaten bitter tasting plants.
Stephen Buckley:
"The evidence indicating  this individual was eating bitter-tasting plants
such as yarrow &  camomile with little nutritional value is surprising.
We know that Hn would  find these plants bitter, so it is likely these
plants must have been  selected for reasons other than taste."
10 samples of dental calculus  from 5 Hn were selected.
The researchers used thermal desorption &  pyrolysis
gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify both free/unbound &
bound/polymeric organic components in the dental calculus.
By using  this method + the extraction & analysis of plant micro-fossils,
they  found chemical evidence consistent with
- wood-fire smoke,
- a range of  cooked starchy foods,
- 2 plants known today for their medicinal qualities &
- bitumen or oil shale trapped in the dental calculus.
Matthew  Collins:
"Using mass spectrometry, we were able to identify the building  blocks of
carbohydrates in the calculus of 2 adults, one individual in  particular
having apparently eaten several different carbohydrate-rich  foods.
Combined with the microscopic analysis, it also demonstrates how  dental
calculus can provide a rich source of information."
The researchers  say evidence for cooked carbohydrates is confirmed by both
the  cracked/roasted starch granules observed microscopically, and the
molecular  evidence for cooking & exposure to wood smoke or smoked food in
the form  of a range of chemical markers including methyl-esters, phenols &
polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons found in dental calculus.
Les  Copeland:
"Our research confirms the varied & selective use of plants by  Hn."
The study also provides evidence that the starch granules reported from  El
Sidr¨®n represent the oldest granules ever to be confirmed using  a
biochemical test,
ancient bacteria found embedded in the calculus offers  the potential for
future studies in oral health.
The archaeological  cave site of El Sidr¨®n (Asturias) contains the best
collection of Hn remains  found in Iberia - one of the most important
active sites in the  world. Discovered in 1994, it contains c 2000 skeletal remains of at least  13
individuals c 47.3 - 50.6 ka.
Antonio Rosas:
"El Sidr¨®n has allowed  us to banish many of the preconceptions we had of Hn.
Thanks to previous  studies, we know that they looked after the sick,
buried their dead, and  decorated their bodies.
Now another dimension has been added relating to  their diet &